Friday, May 2, 2014


A Senate minority has killed the minimum wage bill. Republicans say we live in a free market economy meaning wages will find the proper level; therefore, the government should not interfere. The objective of this post is to examine the three-legged stool of our wage economy: profits, wages, and welfare. Careful consideration proves why Republicans vote the way they do. The first consideration should always be that we live in a democracy, which means we should expect those who represent us to vote in our best interest, which they didn’t. They voted for free enterprise but voted against the workers best interest. Why does this happen?

At first blush, not only Republicans but also almost everyone else believes in the principle that the invisible hand of the “free market” will make needed adjustments to wages; this seems intuitive. For three billion years, the only limit on intake of what an organism, including man and animals, needed to survive was satiety. The only thing that affected regulation was natural abundance or scarcity, the free market.  Labor is a commodity subject to the same rules. The conclusion is that the “free hand of Adams Smith” arose out of our distant past and only works in the most primitive situations—we do not live in a primitive situation. We live in a highly regulated culture; unfortunately, the regulators are the rich people and not all of the people, as our democracy was designed. Multi national corporations, Koch brothers, Walton’s, etc are the regulators and not labor organizations and certainly not the people. The free enterprise system does not work, and will not work without intervention “of the people and by the people”.   

Enterprises are what they are to make as much profit as possible. If employees are involved, they are paid wages for their work. If workers do not work, they need welfare.  For centuries, there was a biological balance; workers produced food or commodities that they could exchange for food, once there was enough to eat, they stopped working. Obviously, there is a straight-line relationship between working and eating; those who did not work starved. As mentality and altruism developed, we transferred our bestial level of benevolence from just our offspring to those around us and “welfare” happened. There was a strong inherent feeling or opinion about who need welfare and who did not, these feelings as much as any other shaped our culture. It is amazing how bestial these feelings are; could you let someone die because they did not want to work or were not capable of working. Have you ever thought about what survival of the fittest really means or how cruel it really is? I often hear people say, “If they do not want to work, let them starve”. As an ex teacher, I have come to believe that if I hear someone say something like that it probably means 10 others are thinking it.

If you were in business to make as much money as you possible can, would you “want” to be in control so you could decrease wages to increase profits? If you are a worker, would you “want” to force your employer to pay wages sufficient to sustain you and your family? Would you support labor unions to raise wages you were the employer? If wages are so low that workers have to receive welfare to live, would you still hate welfare. Would you support having everyone paying taxes so that your workers could receive welfare if it meant you could lower wages to make more profit and your workers would not starve? If there were many unemployed workers, would you “want” to believe that they are not working because they are lazy, or that they are not working because there are no jobs? Which answer would best justify your call for more tax cuts so you did not have to pay welfare? 

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